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Chance Memory

Derwenthorpe Book Clubs present:

Chance Memory: The Story of a York War Poet by Professor Sue Mendus 

In 1927, the author Ernest Raymond wrote of a poem called From Steyning to the Ring, ‘it is simple and perfect … unrivalled in our war literature’. The poem was (apparently) written in the trenches of the Western Front in 1916, and it has become one of the most famous and well-loved of all the many poems of the Great War. And yet, for over half a century, the identity of the poet was unknown. This talk explains the mystery surrounding the authorship of the poem, and tells how that mystery was finally solved.

 From Steyning to the Ring 

I can’t forget the lane that goes from Steyning to the Ring
In summertime, and on the Down how larks and linnets sing
High in the sun. The wind comes off the sea, and Oh! The air!
I never knew till now that life in old days was so fair
But now I know it in this filthy rat-infested ditch,
When every shell must kill or spare, and God alone knows which,
And I am made a beast of prey, and this trench is my lair
My God! I never knew till now that those days were so fair.
And we assault in half an hour, and it’s a silly thing:
I can’t forget the lane that goes from Steyning to the Ring.

Philip Johnson

If you would like to attend this talk, please contact and you will be provided with the link to the Zoom meeting, along with a further sample of the poems.

Sue Mendus is Professor Emerita of Political Philosophy at the University of York, and lives in Osbaldwick.


Neighbour Network is working well

Derwenthorpe Neighbour Support Network is up and running – Contact us on 0771 287 2343 or

There was a lovely response to the leaflet circulated a few weeks ago with many neighbours volunteering their help. Between us we have been able to respond to all the requests of support so far: Neighbours have grocery shopped, collected medicines and posted letters and parcels. We have had telephone conversations and, at a safe distance, had a person to person chat. We have also been able to sign post people to other sources of help where needed.

Lockdown and self isolation can be lonely and stressful. As the situation may go on for a lot longer it was felt that offering a range of opportunities to link up with neighbours in our community may be helpful. It may be for a chat, information or to share interests, all of which can be done by telephone or online.

There are plans for a Derwenthorpe WhatsApp group. Want to be a part of that?   Please send your details or make contact.

  • Are you interested in gardening? Perhaps you have some plants or seeds to swap
  • Do you have some favourite local walks to share?
  • Would you be interested in a quiz
  • Do you need help with IT over the phone?
  • Do you like cooking? Please share your recipes and tips.

If you would be interested please contact us on 

0771 287 2343 or


Nature During Lockdown

We are a group of residents who have been working with JRHT since September 2018.  Our joint aim is to make Derwenthorpe a better home for nature, as well as for people, working within JRHT’s conservation plan.  We’ve doing this in lots of practical ways, such as planting bulbs, collecting meadow cuttings, building bug hotels, and maintaining mulch rings, particularly on newly planted trees. 

We meet regularly with JRHT to discuss ideas and creative ways to maintain and improve our lovely outdoor space in a nature friendly way.  For example, there is now less grass cutting in the more informal areas, such as on the village side of the swales on Stephenson, at the bottom of established and new hedging, and alongside the beck.  This longer grass helps to improve habitats, providing shelter and food for small mammals, insects and birds, and also encourages other plants to grow.  The amount of chemicals used for weed control has been reduced.  There have been changes to hedge maintenance, both established and newly planted ones, to manage them in a more traditional and sensitive way.  

We have just been successful in our bid for funding for an ecology survey on Field 9, which will help us to understand the existing habitat and to identify ways of enhancing it in the future.  (Field 9 is the field that is usually very wet in winter, to the south east of Rowntree and more or less under the power lines.) 

Of course in the current situation, many activities are pretty much on hold, including meetings and organising the ecology survey.  But we are still maintaining mulching rings, as this can be done very safely and appropriately in line with current social distancing rules. 

So if you want to help with this, please do contact us – it’s a great excuse to be outdoors and get some exercise!  Or if you want any more information about us, or better still have any ideas to share, again just drop us an email at


Lockdown Windows

Derwenthorpe residents – especially children – have created some wonderful window displays. Resident Steven Burkeman thought it would be nice to capture some of these (and one or two other ways in which residents have found to thank frontline workers) for posterity. So – here’s a gallery of photos of ‘Derwenthorpe (mostly) Windows in LockDown’.

Steven says “These are just a sample, randomly chosen. I’m sure I’ve missed lots of good ones – it would be great if people could add more. If you think your window should be there, why not take a photo and add it to the gallery? – just email your photo to

Read the York Press article about this.



From the Beano, to Le Figaro: free access to global news publications

A little while ago, City of York Council announced that they’ve provided funding for our local libraries to provide additional on-line services during lockdown. Well, you can now access online newspapers and magazines free of charge, if you have a library card. From the Daily Mail to the Guardian, from the Beano to Le Figaro.

If you don’t have a library card, you can still get one free. It’s worth thinking about the “York card”, which is a paid upgrade, that gets you discounts on entry to various attractions: well, assuming they’ll open again! For example, it gets you free entry to York Minster, which usually costs more than the card itself.


Changes to recycling

Read about changes to the council’s recycling services. The short story is that you don’t need to do anything different, except that garden waste is not being collected yet.


Helping the food banks

Tang Hall Community Centre and York Food Bank are both helping local people with food parcels. Here’s how you can help them to help your neighbours:

1. Donate Money

A donation of £25 buys a food parcel for a family of four*, though any amount would very welcome. And you can donate through to either effort through these links. When donating to Tang Hall Community Centre, please mention “FOOD” in the message.

* Source: York Food Bank. Rough figures, it varies with availability, of course.

2. Volunteer.

You can volunteer to help with food distribution at Tang Hall Community Centre. They need people to help at the centre, or deliver food either by vehicle, bike or on foot.


Fibre upgrade

Some progress on the Fibre upgrade, which should make the Internet and Phones service faster, and much more reliable.

Ducts were installed under Fifth Avenue and Derwent Way last Monday (30 March). Fibre was laid in the ducts. We’re now awaiting OpenReach engineers to connect the fibre at both ends, then make the link live. The equipment at both ends belongs to OpenReach.

It’s been quite a wait. That’s partly because OpenReach originally wanted to install a cabinet on Fifth Avenue, which would require power, and maintenance. Having that equipment in the SSC instead is a much better option in the long run.


30 volunteers!

The Derwenthorpe Neighbour Support Network is now up and running with around 30 volunteers across the estate. In the first week of operation we have had a few calls on the help number, mainly for odd bits of shopping, and the feedback on help received has been very positive.

The telephone is monitored by one of our seven co-ordinators from 10am to 4pm every day. We’ve also registered the network with York City Council and York Centre for Voluntary Services so they are know we are here if they get any calls from our residents that we can help with. 


Pilates online

Lou Cooper’s Pilates classes, much loved by many Derwenthorpe residents, have gone online for the time being. For more information email her at or text/call her on 07587-182-683